Labour Day is a day of camaraderie and solidarity that I enjoy, and look forward to each year. It's a day to celebrate all that we've achieved, a day to feel the power of togetherness and to recommit ourselves to the struggle ahead. From Leamington, to Toronto, it's clear that this economy is not working for people and their families. Factories continue to close, and unemployment in this province remains stubbornly high. Our once strong, stable middle class is quickly becoming a class of precarious workers.
Income disparity also means that working and living in the same place is a luxury few of us can afford -- not just in third world countries, but in small Canadian rural communities as well. Ironically, our stronger economy is also leading to a weaker society. We can't be there for one another as much as we once were. We're too busy making money.
If Canada can make the right choice and tone down the 'dig baby dig, drill baby drill' mentality, not only would Canada not be worse off economically, but we would have a safer environment, and be able to seize the incredible opportunities to invest in the sophisticated clean technology that is going to power this century.
While the probability that a train-load of inappropriately classified oil products would careen down a hill in rural Quebec and explode, killing 47 people and contaminating a fragile lake ecosystem was so infinitesimally small as to be almost incalculable, the consequences were devastating and will be felt for generations.
Some of the largest natural resource projects in all of North America are now sprouting up in the North and eastern Arctic with major companies taking risks alongside northerners. Together, companies and communities are reaping incredible rewards. Labrador's Muskrat Falls project has accelerated the completion of a paved highway and fibre optic line from Goose Bay to Labrador City.
Becoming an entrepreneur used to be a "they" thing: other people did it, but unless you had one in the family, it was a career shrouded in mystery. How do you get started? Do you have to be an inventor? What does it actually take to work for yourself?
The recent announcement by the federal government that it will fund Toronto's subway system is not good news for Canada. It means more of the same style of infrastructure funding we have always had. Instead of predictable, reliable and rules based projects, Canada is riddled with a mish mash of almost completed and almost dead projects politicians pick and choose to save (or not).
Under Stephen Harper, household debt has exploded. The average household debt-to-income ratio (the amount of debt the average Canadian household owes for every dollar of their annual disposable income) has risen from $1.31 to $1.64 -- which is where the United States was before the housing market crashed.
If you need to build connections from scratch, be fearless. Pick up the phone. Write the letter or email. At conferences and social events, approach people and be approachable. Be clear about your value proposition and needs. Ask how you may help them, and ask for support. What's the worst that can happen? They politely decline.
I'm enthusiastic about the bright future that is ahead if we can continue to foster and encourage governments, business leaders and young students to look beyond the limits to make the impossible, possible. I find myself wondering what it will take to win in this Third Industrial Revolution, and I keep coming back to our youth, these students whose brilliant minds know no limits. Are we doing enough to encourage and inspire them? Are we finding the right venues to foster innovation and commercialization of the best ideas in Canada, or will we retain our role as an exporter of raw goods, rather than an information economy of the future?
For Canadian employers, the overall business environment raises many questions. What can we do to drive growth? How can we improve productivity while still controlling costs? How can we produce high-quality goods and services to remain competitive both at home and globally?
Dad was once the ATM; he's less absent now, more engaged in family life. As women "lean in" to the workplace and assert themselves, as they should, men are leaning out. This wreaks uncertainty on the economy, but there is a star of brilliant light looming over the ocean, visible in the ever-rising storm.
In just the first two weeks of January, the prime minister announced another $250 million for the Automotive Innovation Fund -- a federal subsidy program that provides the auto sector with taxpayer cash for research and development. I say let companies duke it out without taxpayers being forced into the ring.
The management of public finances may not have received due attention from the premiers in Halifax. But as our federal and provincial political leaders gear up for next year's budget season, they would be wise to acknowledge the seriousness of growing government debt and put forth bold plans to balance their budgets. Kicking the debt down the road simply isn't an option.
As a nation built to a great extent on immigration, Canada boasts a rich ethnic diversity. Census data show that by far, the largest group has its roots in Western Europe. Analysts and policymakers often lament that economic growth does not reflect this makeup. Within the diaspora in Canada is a hidden goldmine of opportunity to further connect and trade with the fastest-growing markets of the world.
The way Harper made his decision on the new foreign ownership rules is dangerous and undemocratic. Canada has legislation, the Investment Canada Act, that sets out the process and requirements for foreign purchases. Strange that the deal that prompted him to develop the policy will be immune from the policy. Can he choose to ignore his own rules the next time?